THE AGING POPULATION
The whole world is witnessing a massively gradual transition of population towards older people. Longevity is increasing in every part of the world. During last quarter years it has multiplied manifolds in USA. Many call it a boon & others term it as a bane. It is due to the cutting-edge medical facilities & technological advances that people are living so long especially in developed countries. However, it is a burning question to look towards the future prospects & its impact on social, economic & cultural sectors of the ordinary people.
Population Aging – the phenomena:
Everyone in the world is aging. In a developed country like USA this aging phenomena carries a lot of weight in every citizen’s life & is a challenge for the government to cater the needs of such a population in transition. Almost all areas of the economy are being influenced from this trend. It sounds strange but holds truth that the numbers of elderly adults are soon going to outnumber the children or youngsters in the near future. Keeping a reality check, this trend will keep growing p in the upcoming years. USA like other developed countries is working towards furnishing the phenomena through proper planning. In fact, only those economies can prosper who have a blue print for the future ahead. Still, it remains a question as in this growing population will effect an economy more adversely or positively. But the current longevity trend shows a vague sketch of the time to the circumstances to come ahead.
Basically, population ageing occurs due to two major phenomena: increased longevity & reduced fertility. Longevity occurs when the average life expectancy increases, i.e. people survive longer. Reduced fertility occurs when the birth of newborns is reduced, thus leaving behind majority of older population – but this process is very rare in any corner of the world. Another viable method is migration.
According to a research The United States has one of the largest older populations in the world and ages that were once uncommon are now usual. It is considered that never before had USA been so gray, ever in the history. It is assumed that between 2010 and 2050, the U.S. population might grow from 310 million till 439 million, a surge of 42 percent . The population would also turn enormously pluralistic and racially diverse, with the cumulative minority population likely to emerge as the mass till 2042. The population is also expected to become much older, with approximately 20 percent U.S. inhabitants aged from 65 and older towards 2030.
Experts say that the population will drastically continue proliferating in the years ahead. This growth had relatively slowed in the mid 1990’s due to the great depression. However, the older population will keep propagating from the year 2010 till the next 20 – 30 years ahead.
Experts assume that the following can be repercussions of ageing population on the healthcare delivery system:
Implications of ageing population:
Impact on the healthcare delivery system:
The graying population will extensively influence the institutionalization and distribution of health care facilities. Of immense importance would be the abrupt transition of acute diseases to the chronic ones, thus, causing a huge shortage of old age homes, health care workers, nurses, doctors & other paramedical staff. Chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, cerebrovascular diseases, cardiovascular diseases, dementia, arthritis & other bone disorders. Some professionals assume that the human race may turn into a “global nursing home”.
Another school of thought says that a graying population doesn’t mean a sicker one, nor would it be a load over economy increasing social crisis & medical costs. The baby boom generation is considered to remain more active & more productive than previous generations. Moreover, with technological advancements, robots may make life easier with serving as medical paraprofessionals thus reducing healthcare costs(Healy, 2004).
Impact on long term healthcare workforce:
There is going to be a breeding concern about existing & future provision of medical workers especially nurses & paramedical staff, such as registered nurses, personal care attendants, physiotherapists, home health helpers; etc. While, a volume of the healthcare services are provided by the unskilled female paraprofessional staff recruited from various ethnic backgrounds. Less work benefits & remunerations, heavy workloads & a stigmatized profession would make staff enrollment & their retention quite tough. Due to such a state the registered workforce nurses are expected to gradually decline in the upcoming years. Pulling additional workers towards the errand would demand additional wages & relaxed working conditions. Some sources say that there may be a paucity of doctors, usually specialists of different fields. Dental care may be needed by many, but dentists might not be available in rural areas. This may be due to uneven distribution of oral health care professionals (Gavrilov & Heuveline 2003). Medicines will be required to treat multiple diseases in one person at a time which may cause side effects & other outcomes. Their will be a dire need to keep a therapeutic distance between doctors & patients, because persistent illnesses require great constant care & long-term medical services available at the doorstep in the form of nursing homes, old age care facilities, home healthcare, adult daycare, congregate housing & other services of the same kind would be in demand. Further there would be a need to incorporate medical & long-term healthcare services, a feat that would be ideal in a country like US due to disintegration of the financing & delivery systems.
The Impact on employment:
From retiring after a specific age, the older ones would have nothing to do after retirement. They would be like a burden on the economy augmenting to the dependency ratio. There would be a need to keep such masses engaged in some sort of work, whereas due to less energy they might not be capable to prove fruitful or constructive for any kind of occupation. The government would have to reduce other expenditures to increased age allowances and benefits. It would be hard to gauge how long they would thrive on the pensions. The cost of supporting the retirees would bring additional stresses to the economy
The Impact on social policy:
The economic consequences of an ageing population would be enormous. Older people often have higher accumulated savings per head than younger people, but may have less spending habits. They may receive better returns if invested properly. For income security during retirement policy makers may face two challenges: 1) to make certain that individuals have an adequate amount of income during retirement in order to evade a decrease in living standard 2) guaranteeing that aged people are harbored from financial risks. Policymakers would need better data on the financial reaction of the elderly populations, as in either they continue to save or start to spend.
The Impact on community:
It is expected that older communities will be law abiding citizens. Thus this would help decline rate of crimes in society, especially those related with property and people. The spirit of Volunteering will increase amid baby boom community. The whole nation would benefit from this as volunteering is viewed as an important constituent of social capital and therefore a pointer to a healthy civil society. It is thought that these elders would do vacationing, attend musical concerts, theatres, golf clubs and art galleries much regularly than younger people. Additionally, they would try new hobbies, exercise, keep learning & educating themselves & do purchases like computers – not luxury items. They would read more and go to libraries very often. Thus, it is likely that the arts will greatly benefit from an older USA(Healy, 2004).
· Baby boomer older adults would constitute on a smaller group of potential family caregivers than current adults. They have had fewer children than their parents, and it is more likely they would have no children at all. It is a strong probability that divorce rates would decline and it is likely that baby booms prefer living alone as they start ageing. Generally speaking, the conventional act of grandparents giving care to grandchildren would also increase with elder generations assuming parental roles & caring for their grandchildren.
· Older Americans are expected to be high school & college graduates. So, adults would keep themselves informed about healthcare & other medical services. Being well educated, they would always look for keeping healthy & remain updated through new information sources (Wiener & Tilly,2002).
· Companies will advertise more to the senior citizens with discretionary incomes as they are very loyal to their service providers. They would have to be cautious as seniors would not like to see themselves tagged as old & they are sensitive about it. With experience as their teacher, it is hard t victimize seniors as they can sense fraudulent activities because time has taught them not to expose themselves to any sort of risk. They would neither open their doors for strangers nor would release any sort of information on phone.
· Today’s US older adults may not be poor. Rather, they are likely to have high incomes. Than in the past. They would remain in better health overall because of proper way into health care facilities over their lifetimes. Many would have more flexible incomes to spend on healthcare facilities & services that are not covered by Medicare, especially those that advance their quality of life while conceivably not being medically essential(Department of Health and Human Services,2010).
· The country may encounter a grave shortage of pharmacists until educational production can be inflated, or until new ways are found to additionally increase the production of pharmacists (e.g., by employing many pharmacy technicians or by implementing new technologies) Such a shortage would inconsistently affect older adults, due to their much increased use of prescription medications and their higher risk of side effects and impediments from such medications.
· Unlike younger adults who are spendthrift & extravagant, seniors spend their income wisely & their opportunity cost f living is quite lower than people of other ages.
· Senior population is very environmental conscious. This would lead them to participate in activities pertaining to environmental renovation activities.
· Sources say that contentment with life increases as people live longer lives. Thus, seniors would pose as role models for the youngsters. This would contribute to healthy lifestyles in society through sharing their past experiences to the youngsters who would have a great lot to learn from senior masters.
· Older adults might unevenly prefer to live in rural, areas where health care suppliers may be in undersized supply and public transportation may not be available.
· There would a supporting & conducive environment for all individuals with majority of people belonging to same age groups. Inter-community bonding would be very strong and togetherness would lead to a frontier – less brotherhood where very one cares for each other.
The Impact on Economy:
A surge in the dependency ratio due to elderly population means that a smaller % of workers working for a large number humans who are not capable to work or can’t serve as the labor force. Hence, following can be the effects on economy:
Surge in the dependency ratio: It implies that there will be more people enjoying benefits such as national pensions & old age allowances and a few people in labor force and paying income taxes.
The government would have to reduce budgets from other areas for the sake of positioning them on health care of the aged, pensions; etc.
The employed ones would have to pay higher taxes. This could result in reluctance to work and for firms to invest; hence there might be a drastic decline in productivity rate.
Scarcity of workers. The paucity of workers could thrust wages causing wage inflation. Besides, firms may have to react by appreciating & recruiting more people into the workforce, through offering elastic working conditions & practices.
There can be variations within the economy internally.
Senior citizens can be essential economic drivers. Millions of dollars are pooled into health healthcare & real state as a result of retirement migration. This would offer avenues for the economy to cater the needs of seniors. E.g. seniors would like to spend more on their grandchildren then spending on luxury goods etc.
Enhance the contribution rate.
Elevate the retirement age.
Amplify the significance of the private sector & encourage them to offer pensions and other health care facilities. However, this feat may result in increased disparity.
The aging population would influence all sectors of the economy & almost every person needs to plan for such days to come. It would be fruitful for the economy if US inhabitants retain their activeness & health so as to positively contribute to the development. It is very recent that this phenomenon is being understood & acknowledged throughout the world. In our graying world, revolutionary thinking entails that we outlook ageing as a lifetime and society-wide occurrence, not a phenomenon exclusively relating or influencing the elderly people. Besides, the responsibility rests immensely with the political will to make provisions through various kinds of programs for health care costs & quality control in rainy days to come in the near future. So, let’s celebrate this transition as a success story & not as a crisis.
American Society On Aging.( 2010). Retrieved July 20,2010 from www.asaging.org/nchs/module4.pdf
Department of Health and Human Services.(2010) Administration on Aging U.S. Retrieved July 20,2010 from www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/Aging_Statistics/index.aspx
Economics help.(2010).The impact of aging population on economy. Retrieved July 20,2010 from www.economicshelp.org/labour-markets/ageing-population
Gavrilov L.A., Heuveline P.(2003). Aging of Population. The Encyclopedia of population. New York, Macmillan USA, 2003, vol.1, 32-37 retrieved 07/17/2010 from The encyclopedia Of Population.
Healy, J. (2004). The Benefits of an Ageing Population. The Australia Institute. Retrieved July 20,2010 from www.tai.org.au/Publications_Files/DP_Files/DP63%20summary.pdf
Wiener , J.M. & Tilly, J.(2002). Population ageing in the United States of America: implications for public programmes, International Journal of Epidemiology 2002 , Volume 31, Number 4 Pp. 776-78 .